Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Good and The Bad

What are the best things about the internet? What are the worst things about the internet?
It's impossible to pinpoint one thing because it is all a matter of perspective. Some people may say that the worst thing is social networks that steal your information, but others may say social networks are the best thing because it allows you to connect to anyone in the world. While I am not going to discuss that, I am going to bring up what I think is the best and the worst part of the internet. I think the best thing about the internet is torrents and the worst thing about the internet is torrents. Also Google is probably one of the worst and best things about the internet.

For those of you know don't know a torrent is a file that allows you to gain access (through a torrent client) to access a network of computers that have portions of the file you want to download. For example, someone may want to download a movie or a song. By downloading the torrent file, their computer is given directions on where to download portions of the file from torrenting community. Then the file is put together and becomes playable.

In short this is, in many cases, pirating but many companies also use this for legitimate use. Because there is not one uploader and it is impossible to track where the files are being sent, it has become impossible for governments, or companies to find who is downloading what. In any digital media market this has become a major problem because people are torrenting programs, movies, and songs rather then buying them at the store. Many have tried to write their software to not work if not bought with a product key but with the wealth of knowledge from so many hackers in the world, the safe guards by companies are easily bypassed.

For some industries this is obviously one of the worst things that can happen to them.

Not to mention the insanely high risk of virus and malware infection from downloading a random file. Unless you get a torrent from a known and respected site or a closed torrent community, you most likely will invite a Trojan into you digital life.

On the other hand, torrenting is one of the best things on the internet. It allows for quick spreading of documents within international companies, freeware, free songs and many other things. As a student sometimes buying Microsoft office is too expensive and searching the web for freeware can become difficult with all the shady sites that want you to enter some personal info before you can download. By getting a torrent for a Microsoft office like program, within minutes you can have all the tools you need to do your assignments.

One thing that I love torrents for is the sharing of my own videos,not not DVDs I burned on my computer, but the videos I take when I ride my bike. Because I film in HD, my videos can be upwards of 30 gigs in its raw format. The only way to be able to transfer that much data is through a torrent client. I live in Tokyo and have many videos of my bike rides to beautiful mountains, urban hot spots and tourist area. On average, a compressed edited video is still about 7 gigs of information. Unless I send a few DVDs with parts of the video on it, there is no other way for my parents to download the video unless it is from a torrent that I sent them.

Torrenting can connect families, communities, companies and even countries. With the wealth of information in the world, being connected and sharing will help us all grown. If kept within legal boundaries, Torrenting is like the Big Think Project. It is a way for humans to connect and expand our thoughts.

Unfortunately when people think of torrenting they instantly think of media pirates and the 12 year old girl who was being targeted for a  $150,000  lawsuit for downloading music from a torrenting site. But besides all the bad press, torrenting is one of the most useful tools that has been introduced to the internet.

On to talking about Google. Google is the largest and most widely know search engine in the digital world. They have mapped the earth, can find anything, do anything and allow people to share documents. As a matter of fact our class is connected by Google. Using google documents we could see what was going on in our class without really having to be there. By using shared documents we could detail anything and everything about our class and see editing in real time.

Google started out as just a regular search engine but has grown to be an empire of its own. Street view allows people to walk the cities of the world from their desktop. People have even been able to find themselves on street view. All major cites have been mapped and slowly but surely the great wilderness in the world are also being mapped. Google has made it's business to know everything. But what if it knows too much?

Like all social networks, the start up of Google+ has been a way to connect people but also a way to collect information. If you go to facebook, youtube or just about any social site you can link things from google with a click of a button. Google is able to tell your location at anytime with you have a smart phone. For example when you search for a cafe from your smart phone using the google application, it will know exactly where you are and send you results. Creepy right?

In an article by Ian Paul, Does Google Know Too Much About You, he discusses how google may have more dirt on you than you think. Your daily activities, you email address book, shopping habits, search habits, everything..... It put Google into perspective, not as the know all resource for college students, but as any other slimy corporation trying to find new ways to control information and use it for possible profit. What is worse is that it is not regulated by the government to keep top secrets under wraps. Does this remind you of the Wikileaks incident?

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